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When the Flesh Eaters first hit the Los Angeles punk scene in 1977, the band instantly stood out among its contemporaries.

After breaking up in the early ‘80s, resurfacing in the early ‘90s, and reforming once again in 1999, the Flesh Eaters now feature a reunion of frontman Chris D. and the 1981 lineup heard on the album A Minute to Pray, a Second to Die, including Dave Alvin (The Blasters), Bill Bateman (The Blasters), John Doe (X), D.J. Bonebrake (X) and Steve Berlin (The Blasters, Los Lobos). In fact, the reunited superteam is releasing a new album on Jan. 18 titled I Used to Be Pretty—and on that same day, the band will perform at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace with Mudhoney.

During a recent phone interview with Chris D. (Desjardins), he said the recent reunion shows have been a lot of fun.

“We did five shows in 2015, and we did eight back in January (2018), and it always feels good to play with these guys,” Desjardins said. “They are some of my oldest friends, and they are certainly my longest-held musician friends. We just seem to have a good chemistry when we play together. Everybody has fun, and it’s great to do it again.”

Desjardins has worked in the film industry, released poetry, and written books, linear notes and commentary tracks for DVDs of various films. However, he’s not a formally trained musician.

“I tend to get musical ideas very easily, and I don’t know where they come from,” Chris D. said. “I come up with vocal melodies for the guys who know how to play the instruments, and we build up the songs in that way. I could always hear three or four different influences, and didn’t realize at the time I was working on the song. I’m just grateful in doing this that I’ve learned how to convey those musical ideas to more-trained musicians who know what they’re doing with their instruments.”

He talked about the early days of punk’s evolution in Los Angeles.

“Sometimes, like when hardcore was really mushrooming in the early ’80s, we were billed on hardcore shows,” Chris D. said. “In that lineup playing to hardcore audiences, I would think, ‘We should play the melodies a little faster than we usually do.’ In retrospect, I ask myself, ‘How chickenshit is that?’ Even when we’d do that, we’d connect with a majority of them, but there was a contingent that was very off-beat. The one good thing is that a lot of the writers who heard the Flesh Eaters records through the years seem to get that there were a lot of different influences. I could probably count bad reviews on three or four fingers. Most of the write-ups we got from 1979 on have been really good reactions.

“Occasionally, people criticize my vocal style, but when I first started out, I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing.”

I Used to Be Pretty will include the song “Black Temptation,” which was originally included in Desjardins’ writing anthology A Minute to Pray, A Second to Die, released in 2009. He said he never thought he would be able to record it as a song.

“It was kind of strange, because I had the vocal melody in my head, and when I tried to work it up in the early 2000s to record when I did that Miss Muerte album with the other Flesh Eaters lineup … it was too complicated to get into,” he said. “When we worked it up this time with this lineup, we had a similar problem. We hunkered down. ‘Black Temptation’ is pretty structured, and we had to really work on it. Initially, before we did the overdubs and mixed it, I wasn’t really sure if it was sounding like what I had heard in my head, and it wasn’t until it was completely done and mixed that I was going, ‘Oh, OK! Now I hear it the way it’s supposed to be.’ In the end, it came out great.”

The new album also features a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Green Manalishi (With the Two Prong Crown).”

“We were trying to figure out another cover to put in the set, and I had several other different ideas. We’re still intending sometime in the future—if good fortune shines upon us, and we continue to do this for another couple of years—a cover of ‘Dead Souls’ by Joy Division,” Chris D. said. “Since I originally had that idea, I heard that Nine Inch Nails did a cover of it, which I haven’t heard. I knew John (Doe) had this Stooges song in mind from the Fun House album called ‘T.V. Eye,’ and there were several other covers. Dave (Alvin) and I wanted to do ‘Green Manalishi,’ because we really appreciate how great of a guitar player (Fleetwood Mac founder) Peter Green is, and I loved how mysterious the lyrics were. They were informed by a really bad acid trip he’d been on when he was in Germany when his schizophrenia got triggered.”

The Pappy’s date is one of two shows the Flesh Eaters will perform with Mudhoney.

“(The members of Mudhoney) are great guys, and they’re the guys who were responsible for getting us back together for some reunion shows in 2006,” Chris D. said. “They were playing the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in England and got to pick the bands they wanted to play with on the day they were headlining. They got in touch with John Doe and me, and said, ‘We’d really like the Flesh Eaters to play with us, and any of the lineups would be good, but if we could get the Minute to Pray lineup, that’s what we’d like the most.’ John and I went out to the other guys, and everyone had time in their schedule. It was a great experience, and we did three warm-up shows in California before we went over there. We almost did more shows in 2007 and 2008 in California, but those always fell through before they got announced, because people’s schedules got in the way.”

The Flesh Eaters will perform with Mudhoney at 9 p.m., Friday, Jan. 18, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $35. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

Jimmie Dale Gilmore is generally classified as a country artist—but that’s a classification Gilmore doesn’t necessarily embrace.

The singer-songwriter and actor—he played Smokey in The Big Lebowski—is currently on tour with Dave Alvin in promotion of their collaboration Downey to Lubbock, and they’ll be appearing together at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace on Friday, Dec. 7.

During a recent phone interview, Gilmore explained his collaboration with Dave Alvin.

“We’ve been really good friends for 30 years,” Gilmore said. “We’re mutual fans of each other, but we never played music together until last year. My booking agent called one day and said, ‘What do you think about doing a songwriting tour with you and Dave?’ It worked out so well and turned out to be such a good pairing. We had so much in common musically that we hadn’t really been aware of and discovered that we both had a lot of blues and folk stuff in us from when we were learning to play. It was like an experiment that worked.”

Gilmore has collaborated with some of country best-known icons, such as Willie Nelson, and even recorded a song with the Seattle band Mudhoney. He said he’s always enjoyed the process.

“I’m sure it can go wrong, but my experience with it has been very positive,” Gilmore said. “I haven’t done it routinely, but I’ve done it a number of times through the years. For me, it’s always been fun and new.

“It’s almost like all band music is collaboration, in a sense. The other members of the band might not be well-known, but it’s always a collaboration. I’ve heard stories of people clashing, but it’s never happened to me.”

Gilmore is a practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. I asked how it influences his daily life.

“It’s been something that I’ve been so interested and involved in for such a long time,” he said. “It’s not just an influence; it’s a big part of the way I approach life. I just finished a meditation retreat this week. One of the main, core pieces of the Buddha’s teachings is the view of what is life, what is real, and your view of life is what determines your happiness or unhappiness. It’s so pervasive, and it colors everything. This is something we could talk about for hours.

“I view Buddhism not as a religion, but a psychology. I see Buddha as the world’s first great psychologist. I don’t see the Buddha as a religious figure; he himself said he was not—that he was not a god, and was someone who had an insight into the way the mind works. I believe that from what I’ve learned from it. There are people who treat Buddhism as a religion and sort of worship the Buddha, but I never have.”

Gilmore explained why he doesn’t embrace the country label.

“I don’t really identify with any particular one brand of music,” he said. “I got labeled as a country singer and was deeply influenced by country music as a child, but when I started learning how to play, I was more influenced by the folk music and the folk blues. … My voice makes people instantly think, ‘That’s country!’ I’ve never identified with what’s called country music, and it’s such a diverse thing, anyway. But I’ve never felt the label has been accurate.

“Country is such an artificial label, anyway. If you read about the term ‘country music,’ it was invented as a marketing term back in the early days of recording. Among musicians, it’s always a blend of the influences that come together that you happen to be exposed to in your life. Most of the early, well-done country music recorded in a studio—most of the musicians were jazz-players. Louis Armstrong played with Jimmie Rodgers. Labeling things doesn’t make things accurate and doesn’t reflect the ways things really work.”

After listening to Downey to Lubbock, I heard exactly what Gilmore was talking about regarding him and Alvin going back to their folk and blues roots; the album is fantastic. While discussing the album, Gilmore also offered a preview of their show together.

“It’s a lot louder and more forceful than people are used to with my bands. It’s very lighthearted fun, and Dave is a very good guitar-player. There’s variety in it, and it’s kind of a comedy show, too,” he said with a laugh. “Dave’s band is really good, and oddly enough, Dave’s bass-player, Brad Fordham, played with me many years ago when I did the recording with Mudhoney and when I was on Elektra Records. Lisa Pankratz, Dave’s drummer, is truly great and played with me many years ago here in Austin when she was just a teenager. It’s kind of a reunion with me and the band members.”

Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Dave Alvin will perform at 9 p.m., Friday, Dec. 7, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets are $25. For tickets or more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.

Published in Previews

Happy November! Both the holiday season and the end of the year are approaching, and there are some fantastic events to talk about this month.

The McCallum Theatre is back in full swing. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 21, jazz, pop, and R&B vocalist Al Jarreau will be stopping by. Jarreau has won seven Grammy Awards and has released 15 studio albums. Tickets are $37 to $77. At 3 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 22, The Kingston Trio will be appearing. While none of the three current members are originals, they all have contributed over the years to the trio’s legacy as one of the best-selling and most-popular folk acts of all time. Tickets are $32 to $67. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert; 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino has a busy month full of great events. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 6, San Francisco alternative-rock band Train will be performing. The three-time Grammy Award-winning band started in the ’90s opening for acts such as Hootie and the Blowfish, Barenaked Ladies and Cracker; today, the group is headlining shows all around the world. In 2010, the single “Hey, Soul Sister” climbed the charts. As of 2012, it had sold 6 million copies! Tickets are $69 to $129. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, Art Garfunkel will be returning; he also performed at Fantasy Springs in 2014. While he’s known mostly for being half of Simon and Garfunkel, he’s released music on his own—as well as poetry. Tickets are $29 to $59. If you’re into puppets and comedy, you’ll be pleased to know that at 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 21, Terry Fator will be bringing his act to Fantasy Springs. After his 2007 victory on America’s Got Talent, he took the comedy world by storm. Tickets are $49 to $89. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio; 760-342-5000; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa has an impressive November calendar. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, alternative band Goo Goo Dolls will be performing. I was a teenager when the Goo Goo Dolls hit it big with “Long Way Down” in 1995. A few years later, “Iris” was played over and over again on mainstream radio—and became the theme song for every high school prom. It never seemed to go away. In fact, I think our rock station in the Coachella Valley is still playing it. Tickets are $75 to $105. At 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13, get ready to re-live the ‘80s, because The B-52s (above right) will be performing. The B-52s consistently released albums that sold well, and the band had its first mega-smash hit with “Love Shack” in 1989. However, I recommend listening to the 1979 self-titled debut album. It’s one of the greatest albums of all time, in my opinion. While almost the entire original band remains intact, guitarist Ricky Wilson passed away in 1985, a victim of the AIDS epidemic. Tickets are $65 to $95. The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, 32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage; 888-999-1995; www.hotwatercasino.com.

Spotlight 29 Casino has a couple of fine events this month. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 21, The Cult will be performing. The Cult’s hard-rock sound has earned the band a great deal of success; “Fire Woman” and “She Sells Sanctuary” are rock staples. Did you know frontman Ian Astbury also performed with original members of the Doors as Manzarek-Krieger, or “The Doors of the 21st Century”? Tickets are $45 to $65. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 28, Damon Wayans will bring his standup comedy show to Spotlight 29. He was part of In Living Color with his brothers and his sister, and was best known for his character Homey D. Clown. Recently, Wayans found himself in hot water after he questioned statements by Bill Cosby’s rape victims, saying, “It’s a money hustle.” Tickets are $30 to $40. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella; 760-775-5566; www.spotlight29.com.

Morongo Casino Resort Spa has one very notable event worth mentioning: At 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, Melissa Etheridge will take the stage. Etheridge became a hit singer-songwriter in the ’90s and has long been open about her sexuality as a lesbian. Etheridge provided her song “I Need to Wake Up” to Al Gore’s 2006 documentary An Inconvenient Truth, and won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. Tickets are $49 to $59. Morongo Casino Resort Spa, 49500 Seminole Drive, Cabazon; 800-252-4499; www.morongocasinoresort.com.

Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace continues to book great shows. At 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, Patty Griffin (below) will play. Griffin is known for performing folk and Americana music, but she also recorded a gospel album called Downtown Church, for which she won a Grammy Award. Tickets are $25. At 7 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13, Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin with the Guilty Ones will be performing. Both Dave Alvin and Phil Alvin have had extensive careers as roots rockers and alt-country performers. Dave Alvin was also a member of the punk band X for a brief period of time. Tickets are $20. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; www.pappyandharriets.com.

The Date Shed is in full swing and is offering some interesting shows. At 8 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 7, The Kottonmouth Kings will be there. Since forming in 1994, the Kottonmouth Kings have been an oddity, performing “psychedelic hip-hop punk rock.” The subject matter of the band’s songs is all over the map, including conspiracy theories and a love for David Icke. Tickets are $20 to $30. At 9 p.m., Friday, Nov. 13, it’ll be a ladies night to remember: DJ Kristina Sky will be appearing. The Los Angeles DJ is a big name in the EDM world and has performed all over the world. Also appearing on the bill are DJ Femme A, DJ Ivanna Love, and DJ Sugarfree. Tickets are $10 to $15. At 8:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 20, get ready to party with Metalachi. It’s a mariachi band that performs metal music in the mariachi style. Sounds like fun, right? Also on the bill are Aphrodisiac Jacket, and former Machin’ violinist Bri Cherry. Tickets are $15 to $20. The Date Shed, 50725 Monroe St., Indio; 760-775-6699; www.dateshedmusic.com.

Published in Previews